The real McCoy
Aside from Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, there’s another Tondo Boy making good in showbiz. He’s none other than McCoy de Leon who was born and raised in Divisoria where the family runs a vegetable stall
Photos by Ver Paulino

The real McCoy

CONVERSATIONS - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2019 - 12:00am

During a guest appearance of the De Leon family in the Kapamilya show Magandang Buhay (hosted by Jolina Magdangal, Karla Estrada and Melai Cantiveros), the matriarch, Shiela de Jesus-de Leon, related that when she was pregnant and manning a stall teeming with pakwan (watermelon), a stranger came by, looked at her palm and said, “Your first-born will be famous; sisikat ang magiging anak mo.”

Shiela shrugged off the stranger’s prediction and remembered about it only 24 years later when McCoy, the eldest of her and husband Mark de Leon’s four children, made a name as an actor. McCoy has taken up where his father, a dancer and aspiring actor, left off.

Like Manila Mayor Isko Moreno who is a GTB (Genuine Tondo Boy), McCoy is proud to be one.

“I can relate to Mayor Isko,” said McCoy in an exclusive Conversation prior to the presscon for G!, one of the 10 official entries in the ongoing third Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP). “He is my idol, my role model.” (G! could mean “game” or “go.”)

But unlike Mayor Isko who helped his family make ends meet by being a basurero (scavenger) before he became an actor, McCoy comes from a less-humble family.

Born Marc Carlos Francis de Jesus de Leon on Feb. 20, 1995, McCoy (sister Shylla is 20, and two little siblings are aged five years old and two years old) attended high school at San Sebastian College-Recoletos and was a Civil Engineering junior at Mapua when he quit school as more opportunities opened up for him in showbiz.

McCoy with co-stars (from left) Jameson Blake, Kira Balinger, Paulo Angeles and Mark Oblea

He was around 16 when he began appearing in commercials. He got his acting break in the 2012-2014 hit Kapamilya soap Be Careful With My Heart as an antagonist-protagonist sharing scenes with the main stars Jodi Sta. Maria and Richard Yap, followed by bigger roles in Nasaan Ka Nang Kailangan Kita, Wansapanataym, Ang Probinsyano, Maalaala Mo Kaya and The Good Son (where he earned praises for his role as Joshua Garcia’s bad brother).

McCoy also starred in several films, starting with the indie Insalado for which he was hailed as Best New Movie Actor of the Year (2018) by the 34th PMPC (Philippine Movie Press Club) Star Awards for Movies; Star Cinema’s Ang Panday (starring Coco Martin) and Sin City (Xian Lim and Nathalie Hart) and Black Sheep Productions’ Sakaling Maging Tayo (2019) with Elisse Joson with whom McCoy was named Most Promising Love Team by the 2017 Box Office Entertainment Awards, plus three unreleased films — Block Z and The Mirror of Star Cinema, and D’Ninang by Regal Entertainment.

Elisse is McCoy’s immediate “ex” who is now being courted by Jameson Blake, McCoy’s co-star in G!

“He asked my permission,” McCoy confirmed. “And all I asked him was to take good care of Elisse.”

Jameson is also McCoy’s co-member in #Hashtags, the dance group popularized by It’s Showtime in 2017. McCoy is said to be the most mabait (kindest) of the 11 members including Nikko Natividad, Jimboy Martin, Tom Doromal, Ronnie Alonte, Paulo Angeles (also in the G! cast), Ryle Santiago, Luke Conde, Zeus Collins and Jon Lucas who has jumped over to the Kapuso network and is in the cast of the forthcoming GMA series Descendants of the Sun topbilled by Dingdong Dantes.

How true! When Ricky Reyes and Hans Sy inaugurated the Quezon City branch of Childhaus (the temporary shelter of cancer-stricken children while undergoing treatment), McCoy showed up carrying three boxes of sandwiches under a drizzle.

“I didn’t really dream of pursuing an acting career,” admitted McCoy, “although I wanted to act. I told my mom that I just wanted to earn money and save, and I promised that I would go back to school. After the #Hashtag dance rehearsal, I tried to attend classes until I became pressed for time at hindi na nakaya ng katawan ko. So I quit school. But I will keep my promise to my mom.”

In G!, directed by Dondon Santos and produced by Cineko Productions (Mang Kepweng Returns, Fallback, Harry & Patty, The Significant Other and the award-winning Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon), McCoy plays Sam Corteza, the captain of a football team, who tries to fulfill his bucket list (road trip, skinny-dipping, getting tattooed and drunk until he drops, having his first sexual experience, etc.) after he was diagnosed with a tumor in his gall bladder.

“I like the role, ma-drama,” noted McCoy whose smiling eyes, according to a popular director, hinder his dramatic capability but were amply disproven when McCoy acquitted himself in a Good Son scene in which he and Joshua cried over their mom’s death.

Looking back, McCoy recalled his Divisoria days when he played with friends with whom he now keeps in touch only through Facebook.

“I didn’t really help tend our stall pero naranasan ko tumambay sa kalye at mga kalaro ko ‘yung madudungis talaga,” related McCoy. “I grew up in the Sto. Cristo area where our family sold vegetables, doon sa palengke ng Divisoria. They know me there. Ipagtanong mo ako, at kilala nila ako. Nandoon pa ang puwesto namin.”

Although he now lives alone in a condo unit near his work place, McCoy makes it a point to visit his family in Tondo where he has invested in a three-storey building (constructed where the family house used to be), the ground floor of which is being rented by somebody selling onions, etc.

“We are reserving one floor for my grandfather to stay in when he is no longer a barangay chairman in our place,” said McCoy, adding, “I won’t say that I am the breadwinner of our family but I help in sending my sister to school and in other expenses.”

On a recent visit to Divisoria, McCoy was amazed by how clean it is, thanks to Mayor Isko’s clean-up drive around the city.

“Pero nakaka-miss din ‘yung Divisoria na nakilala ng tao na maraming nagtitinda,” he said. “Nanibago ako.”

And what else does he miss about Divisoria?

“The special family occasions that I can’t attend because of my work schedule. I feel guilty not being with them in those times na ako lang ang wala sa family. But as I’ve said, I make up for it. After a shoot, even if it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, I would drop by. Mommy is already making tampo kasi, eh.”

That’s the price of being a public property. When last checked, McCoy has 1.9 million followers on his Instagram hashtag_mccoydl and more than 500,000 in his Twitter account.

Meanwhile, get to know McCoy more as he completes the following sentences…

• What I like about showbiz is…The surprises. Hindi mo ini-expect na mangyayari ang lahat na expected mong mangyayari. You cannot tell how far you will go. There are so many ups and downs. Showbiz is like life. Kelangan mo lumaban sa mga pagsubok sa mundo.

• What I don’t like about showbiz is…Not many actually. I have accepted the reality that when you enter showbiz, you lose your privacy. What I don’t like? Yes, ‘yung kelangan mong gawin kahit hindi mo gusto o dapat gawin. And also, so many eyes are staring at you; ang daming mata na nakatingin sa’yo.

• The roles that I want to play are…Heavy roles, like the ailing character that I play in G! Some people say that kulang ako sa pain so I can’t do heavy roles. It’s true that I come from a happy family, but I am ready to prove that I can do any role, kahit matindi.

• I like girls who are…Simple.

• I don’t like girls who are…Unfaithful.

• I had my first love when…I was in the elementary grades. It was puppy love.

• I experienced my first heartbreak…When I was in third year high school. I was around 15 then.

• I lost my innocence…When I was in fourth year high school, to an older woman.

• My most embarrassing moment happened…When I was delivering a declamation in school and I forgot the lines.

• What makes me happy is…My family.

• What makes me sad is…The fear that I might lose any member of my family.

• What makes me mad is…When my family is dragged into unpleasant issues.

• My goal in life is…To secure my family.

• The real McCoy is…Simple but terrible, hahaha!!!

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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